Entre 2 album review: Carpe Diem

Track 5: Carpe Diem (“Seize the Moment”)

Carpe Diem is a song that we can all relate to in one way or another. Many of us will be familiar with the Latin aphorism, which translates as “Seize the Day” or “Seize the Moment”, as it is intended here. And, indeed, many of us share 1Key’s inner battle between existing in the here-and-now and worrying about the future. In an age of instant communications, global terror threats, and economic uncertainty, fear and anxiety are arguably on the rise. Some people think about their future, with its endless possibilities and increasingly high expectations, and become overwhelmed. Many others are forced to live from day to day; crippled by political, economic and/or social insecurities, they are unable to make plans for the futures they desire.

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Carpe Diem is tattoed on 1Key’s arm. [Courtesy of 1Key]

In Rwanda’s capital city, there is certainly an atmosphere of hope and renewal. While it’s impossible to forget the absolute horror of the past, the Kigalians with whom I have lived, worked and socialised share an optimism for the future. After all, they have borne witness to their country’s remarkable recovery, since the end of the 1994 Genocide. At the same time, the majority of Kigalians continue to struggle under financial hardships, facing un-(or under) employment, unaffordable housing and rising food costs. For the young men in my research, the rare occasion of getting paid would present an opportunity to party, and to “shake of that stress”, rather than to plan ahead and save. This attitude towards living in the moment is prevalent in popular Rwandan song lyrics, such as the hit song Vuza Ingoma (“Play the Drums”) by TBB, featuring Jay Polly, with lines like: Nta kwita kuri time (“Don’t worry about time”) and: “If you getting money spend it like you get paid.”

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Carpe Diem is tattoed on 1Key’s arm. [Courtesy of 1Key]

In Carpe Diem, 1Key tells us that he lives for moments which make his spirit vibrate. The chorus embodies a celebratory, care-free quality, with rhythmic Congolese rumba beats. 1Key switches from hip-hop poetry to tuneful singing, repeating his message of Carpe Diem again and again. Whenever I listen to the chorus, I can’t resist singing along, my head flung back and arms spread out wide! The rumba style is most pronounced in the outro, which 1Key performs in Lingala, one of the major languages of the DRC. The Congolese connection is no coincidence. 1Key was born in Goma, eastern DRC, where life is particularly harsh and insecure. He told me: “In Congo, everybody has to live day-to-day”, and yet Congolese music (which has influenced the entire continent and beyond) is undeniably uplifting and contagious. The high-pitched, tinny beats in the verses also connect us to 1Key’s personal memories from his childhood in Goma. The sounding of this particular rhythmic sequence was how kerosene dealers would announce their presence, especially when it was dark, with power outages being common.

While the chorus is light and relatable, the longer verse lines are delivered with urgency and passion. I particularly enjoy 1Key’s use of imagery. He tells us that he’s decided to: “Jump on every opportunity that life presents and devour it.” (Translated from French to English) He asks the evocative question: “Why do we cling so much to the imaginary and let the present slide through our fingers?” (Translated from French to English) Forever challenging us to participate in his art, and to seek out deeper meaning, 1Key makes reference to mathematics and to the riddle of the chicken and the egg. The wordsmith cleverly ties together his ideas through word play, relating “mathematical problems” and unsolvable riddles to “life problems”, which 1Key has decided not to focus on. He’d prefer to Carpe Diem!

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Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda. 2014. Carpe Diem! (Kelly) [Courtesy of the author]

Entre 2 is available on Soundcloud – Entre2 and for sale on digital stores iTunesSpotify, and Amazon.
Eric 1key is very active on social media where you can find him discussing and debating all kinds of things. For updates and live info, follow Eric1key on Twitter: @eric1key, Facebook: Facebook/eric1key, Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/eric1key or email for bookings at ericonekey@gmail.com

 

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Song lyrics and translations

Carpe Diem (“Seize the Moment” [Track 5 on Entre 2 album, 2015]) 

Prod. Junior Kafi (Kigali); French, Lingala.

[Verse 1] [Verse 1]
Prisonnier lié au fil du temps Prisoner bound by the thread of time
Produit d’hier vendu au present Yesterday’s product sold to the present
Livré à la merci de l’instant suivant Left at the mercy of the next moment
Entre le désir de rester vivant et la crainte ultime de disparaître dans le néant Between the desire to remain alive and the fear of disappearing into the void
Je ne suis qu’un étranger ici I’m just a stranger here
Un passager en transit perdu entre l’arrivée et l’exit A passenger in transit lost between arrival and exit
Inconnu dans ma quête, mon nom aurait dû être Ix Unknown in my quest, my name should have been X
Gausse/Gosse dans ma tête, tout me parait comme un matrix Gauss/Child in my mind, everything seems to be like a matrix
Une équation linéaire à plusieurs degrés A linear equation but with lots of levels
Les questions deviennent plus compliquées au fur du temps, malgré leur simplicité Questions become more complex with time despite their simplicity
Comme l’énigme de l’oeuf et de la poule on peut pas tout résoudre Just like the riddle of the chicken and the egg, we cannot solve everything
Ca va paraitre paresseux, con même It might sound lazy, or even stupid
Mais depuis que je traite plus la vie comme un problème But ever since I stopped looking at life like a problem
Elle est devenue plus vivable, plus facile It has become more livable
Je ne me demande plus pourquoi j’existe ni pourquoi j’écris depuis que j’ai compris I no longer ask why I exist or why I write since I understand
Que je ne vis que pour ces moments qui animent mon esprit That I live for these moments which make my spirit vibrate
Au fond, romancer l’instant, c’est ça faire de la poésie Because deep inside romancing time, that is poetry
[Hook] [Hook]
Entre le passé et l’avenir… Carpe Diem Between the past and the future… Carpe Diem
Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                               Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                        
Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                               Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                           
Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                               Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                    
[Verse 2] [Verse 2]
Parce que le passé n’est qu’un collage d’images stockées dans nos mémoires Because the past is just a collage of images stored in our memories
Un film qui varie avec l’âge car chaque nouveau détail change la version de l’histoire A film which varies with time because every new detail changes the story
Parce que l’avenir n’est qu’un mirage fait de nos peurs et nos espoirs Because the future is just a mirage made of our hopes and fears
Pourquoi s’accrocher à l’imaginaire et laisser le présent nous glisser entre les doigts? Why do we cling so much to the imaginary and let the present slide through our fingers?
Le temps passé ne revient jamais et demain ne nous appartient pas Yesterday is gone and tomorrow does not belong to us
Entre les regrets d’hier et la crainte de demain moi j’ai décidé de saisir le présent à deux mains Between the regrets of yesterday and the fears of tomorrow I decided to seize the present in both my hands
Sauter sur chaque occaz que la vie présente et la croquer à pleines dents Jump on every opportunity that life presents and devour it
Instinct animal, l’intuition guide mes pas Animal instinct, I am guided by my intuition
J’ai foi en elle c’est pourquoi je crois en moi I have faith in it, that’s why I believe in me
Mon destin est un freestyle, ma vie un spectacle My fate is a freestyle, my life a theatre
Biopic d’un artiste qui ne cesse de se battre et se débattre Biopic from an artist who doesn’t cease to fight
Une pièce dramatique dans laquelle je joue le rôle principal A dramatic play in which I am the protagonist

 

Chaque jour commence avec une nouvelle page Every day begins with a new page
Avant de la tourner, je check le tatoo sur mon bras Before I turn it, I look at the tattoo on my arm
Il lit carpe diem And it reads carpe diem
[Hook] [Hook]
Entre le passé et l’avenir… Carpe Diem Between the past and the future… Carpe Diem
Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                               Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                          
Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                               Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                           
Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                               Carpe Diem Carpe Diem                                                                                                                           
[Outro] [Outro]
Eza systeme ya invasion It’s an invasion
Toye kosimba mokolo And we came to seize the day
Eza ya yo papa It’s yours papa[1]
Simba, ma, kamata! Kamata! Seize it, grab it, get it! Get it!
Lobi ezalaka te Tomorrow doesn’t exist
Lelo ya yo lobi soki eye, eza ya yo! Today is yours, if tomorrow comes make it yours too!
Ma, kamata, ma, kamata! Grab it, get it, grab it, get it!
Simba mokolo Seize the day
Simba mokolo Seize the day
Simba mokolo Seize the day
Simba mokolo Seize the day
Hahahahaha… Hahahahaha…

[1] In Kinshasa, DRC Papa is slang for “man”, “bro”, “dude”, etc.

 

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